From May 22-28, more than 36,000 dogs across Phnom Penh received free vaccinations against rabies.

On May 20, the Directorate of Animal Health and Production – in cooperation with Mission Rabies and Animal Rescue Cambodia – announced the free campaign, which will run until June 2.

In a social media post, Mission Rabies estimated that 70 per cent vaccination coverage of the capital’s canines would protect the lives of countless people and dogs.

The post announced that working groups from the organisation had gone door-to-door to encourage people to bring their dogs for vaccination.

“Inoculations are the most cost effective, efficacious method of protecting people from rabies. Eighty five per cent of Cambodian dogs have owners, so public education about this issue is very important,” it said.

Nuth Sambath, president of the Institute of Medicine, Biology and Agriculture at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, explained that rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that lives in the saliva of infected dogs, as well as other domestic animals such as cats and mice.

“Rabies vaccinations for dogs do not just protect our pets from rabies – they protect people,” he added.

“If someone is bitten by a dog, they should immediately visit a hospital, so a specialist can vaccinate them against possible rabies infection,” he said.

Mission Rabies said Cambodia has one of the highest rates of rabies deaths in the world, with up to 99 per cent of rabies’ deaths caused by dog bites. Each year, an estimated 600,000 people in Cambodia are bitten by dogs, with most of them forgoing medical treatment or vaccination.

The free vaccination campaign was launched in Chroy Changvar and Prek Pnov districts on May 22, before being rolled out across the capital. It will end in Chamkarmon, Boeung Keng Kang district, and Prampi Makara districts on June 2.

Information on when the campaign arrives in each area is available through Mission Rabies’ website.